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The Edmonton woman who came forward with sexual harassment allegations against former Liberal cabinet minister Kent Hehr tells CBC News she has had to accept police protection and security at her workplace because of online threats of violence made against her.
Kristin Raworth woke up to hundreds of messages from complete strangers on Twitter, email and Facebook after she wrote online that Hehr made “sexually suggestive” comments to her and other women when he was a member of the Alberta legislature. She said that, among other things, Hehr once told her she was “yummy” while they were riding on an elevator together.
“I had a message from someone telling me that he hoped I got raped and killed because that’s what I deserved for being a lying whore,” Raworth said in her first on-camera interview with CBC News.
“I had no idea what to do. I just wanted it to stop.” – Kristin Raworth
Raworth said that while she did receive some messages of support, many others were hateful. Some involved threats of violence. Some were from women accusing her of minimizing the experience of sexual assault survivors.
“You live by yourself, and you don’t know what to do. I had no idea what to do. I just wanted it to stop,” she said, struggling to hold back tears.
“And in that moment you feel like, I wish I had never said anything, because it is not worth it to have to go through this and have people say this about you.”
Raworth said she handed over copies of the death threats to police and authorities did a security assessment of her apartment after a threatening note was slipped under her apartment door. She also was given a GPS-linked panic button, which she still carries in her purse.
It has been just over a month since Hehr resigned from the position of federal minister for sport and persons with disabilities in the Trudeau government.
Hehr still sits as a Liberal MP as the investigation into Raworth’s claim and other allegations continues. On Feb. 21, Hehr posted a statement to his Twitter account saying he is “committed” to the investigation process and has “confidence in the outcome.”
“To help ensure this process is effective and fair, I will not be speaking to the issue until it has concluded. While this unfolds, I will continue to work for the people of Calgary Centre.”
On Jan. 25, Hehr tweeted that “harassment is never acceptable” and insisted he has “always tried” to conduct himself “with respect towards others.”
Raworth said she isn’t satisfied with how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a self-proclaimed feminist, handled Hehr.
“I understand that the position right now is that they are waiting for the investigation before making a formal decision. However, before they were in government they had two MPs who were accused of harassment and they were immediately kicked out of caucus,” she said.
“So I don’t understand why that same measure hasn’t been taken in this situation.”
Many of the harsh comments Raworth received questioned the seriousness of Hehr’s alleged “yummy” comment, she said.
“That kind of attitude allows stuff like that to continue to be pervasive,” Raworth said.
“What happened to me was sexual harassment, but sexual harassment exists on a spectrum in terms of sexual violence in general.”
Raworth said she still believes her #metoo tweet was worth the fallout.
“I’ve had messages from people telling me that they now feel comfortable talking about their own experiences with harassment or assault because of what I did.”